Reading, Ill. History

            Excepting the county seat, this is the oldest laid out town in the county, having been surveyed and platted previous to 1851. It was surveyed by Franklin Oliver for David Boyle and Caleb Mathis, from the southeast quarter of Section 15. Scarcely a prettier location for a town could be found in the whole county as this. The ground is high and dry; and being on the bank of a fine little stream of water, good drainage is rendered easy.

The first house built in the village was put up by L.S. Latham. Dr. Follet built an office near the same time.

            The parties who laid out the town were also interested in its business and its early improvement; and David Boyle, who was one of the proprietors and Jeremiah Mathis, brother of Caleb Mathis, built the first store house. Mathis also built a hotel and was the conductor of the same. About this time the coal mines in this vicinity were being developed; and people from all section of the country, within fifty miles, came here for coal. Being unable to make the trip in one day, and sometimes having to await their turn, necessitated hotel accommodations. So extensive did this business become in a few years that three hotels were at one time in successful operation. Those times have all passed; and the weary traveler must continue on a few more miles. Dr. J. Hill came in soon after the town was established, and built a residence and opened an office.

            C. R. Kyser, who had been living in the township, came to the village and built a blacksmith shop, and carried on the trade.

            Jacob Bussard, in partnership with William B. Lyon, opened up a store a short time after. They afterward dissolved, and each carried on the business independently, thus making at one time three flourishing general stores. Before the establishment of Reading, the people in all of this section of country went to Lacon and Ottawa to do their trading; and consequently, this enterprise, in connection with the coal banks, drew a large amount of business to this point. The town grew rapidly, and bid fair to be a place of importance; but railroads, built soon after in other parts of the country, drew business and capital away from the place, and Reading was left to languish. The town is still a pleasant little place to live in, but the greatness that was anticipated for it has all vanished.


The History of Livingston County, Illinois

Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Co

Chicago, 1878


            The village of Reading is situated in Reading Township on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, four miles southwest of Streator, it nearest banking point. Population is 60. Wells Fargo Express Company and Western Union Telegraph Company have an office here. During 1897, 82,000 bushels of corn and 50,000 bushels of oats were shipped from this station. There is a Methodist Episcopal church here, but no regular services are held. Reading is the oldest town in the County, with the exception of Pontiac, having been surveyed and platted previous to 1851.


            Reading Business Directory 1898

            H. Defenbaugh, Grain

            Oscar Stevenson, General Merchandise and Postmaster

            C. A. Timmons, Railroad and Express Agent